I have been waiting for the iPad announcement for sometime. The wait was good because it allowed me to use my imagination thinking about what it might be. As my readers know, I have been working with computers since 1966 and for many years, I was able to even had some non trivial effect on the development of the PC industry particularly with respect to the development of residential broadband. I had a vision of the connected PC becoming a new medium for entertainment, education and communication and commerce. It pretty much played out as I thought, spoke and wrote about in the 90s. Wireless technologies were just beginning to make themselves felt when I left my position as Vice President of Business Development at Intel Corp. in April of 1999. I had one of the first Blackberries and installed one of the first wifi networks at the World Headquarters of The Avram Miller Company (me and three assistance). At that time, I thought that the PC and MAC would move into the entertainment center of homes. But things did not play out as I thought. I mean I could personally build a home media center but both the cost and more importantly the complexity made the development of the PC based home media center out of the reach of most consumers. And of course, Microsoft was not really the company to lead this development. My former company, Intel, lacked both the vision and the ability to do much (even thought it was pretty much mission critical for Intel in my opinion). Apple would not try to do much in this area because given the complexity issues and the need to deal with cable companies etc, they would not be able to deliver on their brand promise. It was a good decision for Apple.
In the meantime, we had move and more of the computer applications moving to the Cloud. I became convinced that we would ended with a number of devices in the home that connected to each other via the internet. Last year, I got an iPod and also moved from the PC to the Mac. I could no longer take all the problems I got using Microsoft software. Now I am Microsoft free. But I did not expect to have a trans-formative experience using the iPhone. I thought that the iPhone would be a utilitarian product for me. It would be used to keep my calendar, address book and deal with email as well as phone communications. And yes, it would be my iPod but I was not that much into using an iPod type device. Instead, I found that it was a major form of entertainment. Even with the small screen, I would watch TV shows, movies etc when I traveled. And I loved the intimacy of the touch screen. I began to realize that this was indeed personal computing and that the subjective relationship between myself and this piece of equipment was different than I had with a notebook or desktop computer. My iPhone also started becoming my controller for things like the lighting in my home and the control of my AV system. I noticed that I cared my iPhone with me all the time.
So when I began to hear the rumors of an iPad, I realized that this might be the device that would really transform entertainment. In the 90s I was found of saying that the PC was the Black Hole of Technology. That anything that came close to the PC (like word processors) would fall into the PC and become part of the PC. The iPhone and devices like it has become the black hole of the pocket or purse and are sucking functionality into it like camera, phone, utilities etc. So would the iPad become the black hole for media? I think it can be. I beleive the exerience of watching entertainment with a device that you can hold but more importantly that you can touch will change the perspective on the entertainment experience in very powerful ways.
But I was also disappointment in some of the specs of the iPad and wonder if Apple is making trade offs that are based on getting the product out at the right price and more importantly at the right quality or are they based on business strategies that limit the iPad to benefit other Apple products. For instance the lack of a face forward camera means it can not be used for video conferencing. But I think that is a very important capability for this product. I want to be able to communicate with my kids and grand kids that way as I do now on my mac book pro (or mac book air when I travel). I also think that video communications will be important in playing network based games or even sharing entertainment experiences with friends. I am very interested in the book reading experience. I use a Kindle all the time and love it. I was disappointed that there was no real GPS capability.
I think the iPad will be a great product for seniors like my father who will soon be 87 and has some difficulty dealing with his PC. But unfortunately, you have to have a PC or Mac if you have an iPad so you can run iTunes making things more complicated. I hope there is a work around for this.
Anyway, I can’t wait to get my iPad. Not sure if I will wait for the 3G model.